I was reading my bible in Mark tonight and again, was hit by the feeling that there was something I was missing in a passage. If you want to read the whole story, it’s in Mark 2:2-12. It is the story where Jesus is teaching and a paralytic with four tenacious friends is trying to get to him, so they cut a hole in the roof and lowered their friend to Jesus. In Sunday school, we always heard this story and about how his friends helped him get his healing. They always focus on the “Take up your mat and walk!” part of the story.
What I’m pondering now is this-Jesus doesn’t heal the man right away. In fact, I’m not sure he intended to heal him at all. His first reaction when he sees the cripple and his friends is to say, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” The religious folks sitting around were slightly appalled at this and begin thinking to themselves how full of himself Jesus was for saying such a thing. “Only God can forgive sins. Who does this guy think he is?” When Jesus sensed their thoughts, he asks them a question. “Why are you reasoning these things in your hearts? Which is easier; to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, pick up your stretcher, and walk?’ But so you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. . .” Only then did he tell the man to get up. After that, the religious men were astounded and praising God saying they’d never seen anything like it.
My real focus here is on the scribes. When Jesus forgave the man his sins, they were almost indignant. When he healed his body, they were overjoyed. Did Jesus delay the healing for their benefit? Perhaps he was hoping they would see the bigger picture and understand that forgiveness of sins is paramount. What I see here is that too often, we tend to judge what God is doing in the lives of those around us. Or, we judge another person as not being “spiritual enough” to get God’s healing. Jesus knows the “real us” from the inside out and what it is that we really need. This challenges me. The next time I see a fellow Christian doing something I don’t see as “spiritual,” I want to take a minute to think about what God may be doing in that person’s life.
God is a precise surgeon, only working on the parts of our heart that are ready for his work. We must be careful not to be judgmental of that work in those around us. Jesus is the expert, we are merely there to observe and support, much like the friends of the paralytic. Their faith got him in front of Jesus in the first place, then they backed off and let the Lord do his thing. There is a lesson in that.